Panama City Beach’s white sandy shores will remain off-limits for at least another two weeks.
The City Council’s vote to extend the closure followed Bay County’s decision to continue its beach shutdown for at least another week.
While other local governments along the Gulf Coast, including Walton County and Escambia County, have recently issued 30-day beach closures, the city has been taking up the issue every two weeks and the county has been revisiting it weekly.
If the city’s beaches reopen, while others in the region remain closed, it could attract more people to the area than usual, Council Member Hector Solis explained at the meeting.
“If we open that beach up, we don’t just open it up to our local citizens, we open it to everybody that wants to come here,” Solis said.
As of 6 p.m. on Thursday, there were 34 confirmed coronavirus cases in Bay County, according to the Florida Department of Health.
“We have to discern between wants and needs in our community,” Solis said. “We want to go to the beach, but we need our first responders to stay safe.”
While the beaches, libraries and state parks will stay closed, local parks, piers and the city’s swimming pool remain open.
The council meets again on April 23, two days after the local elections. Then, a new mayor and at least one new council member will help decide whether to reopen the beach or continue to keep it off-limits amid the pandemic.